Muscle tension is the body’s physical response to distress, and in reverse, relaxing your muscles can help relieve distress.
What is muscle relaxation?
Do you tense up when you feel anxious or stressed? Do you clench your jaw or your fists when you’re under pressure? Muscle tension is the body’s physical response to distress, and in reverse, relaxing your muscles can help relieve distress.
How does it help?
Keeping your baseline of anxiety and stress as low as possible is important to your overall health. Tensing your muscles draws on your energy resources and can exhaust your body, so practicing muscle relaxation regularly throughout the day and the week can help make you feel less tired.
What if I can’t relax my muscles?
If you’ve been very tense for a long time, it may take a while to teach your muscles how to relax. The results may not be instant, but just remember that with each session you’re rewiring your muscles to remember a more peaceful state, which will help you relax faster and for longer in the future.
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Small Steps Toolbox
These tools have been developed to help with feelings of anxiety, stress, or low mood. Each tool only takes a few minutes. Health and wellbeing is an ongoing journey - so try them out and see what works for you.
This tool can give you insight into how what you’re doing affects your mood, and recommends activities that can improve how you’re feeling.
During this mindfulness exercise, you’ll be guided by relaxing audio to calmly notice different visual aspects of images and apply this to your surroundings.
This tool can help to identify unhelpful patterns in your thoughts and beliefs and reframe them over time to help you feel better and make decisions that support your overall sense of wellbeing.
During this exercise, you’ll be guided to identify sensations in your body that you often experience when feeling upset. You can use these as signals to react differently, use a tool, or engage in self-care.
Learn to appreciate the small things in life through practising gratitude. Doing this regularly can help lift your mood and make you feel happier.
This reflective technique involves slowly breathing in and out to help you feel calmer and more relaxed. This tool is guided by an animated image that inflates and deflates.
This skill involves fully focusing on what a person is saying, rather than selectively hearing. In this exercise, you’ll practice listening and develop an awareness of when you’re not paying attention.